People have this warped perception that if you are a young Mum, then you must be:
2.Dealing with the repercussions of a one night stand or bad choice of boyfriend
3.A terrible mother and human being
I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant with my son and had only just turned 24 when I gave birth to him. The reaction to my age at baby groups is often mixed, some are shocked that I am so young and spend a majority of their time avoiding me or ‘explaining’ things to me and some think that by 24, the chances are I can probably look after myself and therefore a baby, so speak to me like an actual human being.
But this sort of avoidance isn’t even the most shocking behaviour I have encountered since entering parenthood.
In the summer when Oliver was about three months old, there was a really beautiful day, so I decided to take Oliver for a walk. By lunchtime it was extremely hot and so I tried to purchase a cup of tea and a scone in a café, so I could feed him out of the sun. I was turned away and so I ended up feeding him in the scorching sunshine on a bench in the street. I’ve never been so humiliated and angry all in one go.
Another incident came when I needed a dentist appointment and due to the ridiculous wait for the NHS dentist, I went private. It was during the day and my partner was at work, so I took Oliver with me. In the waiting room a man looked me up and down and tutted. Actually tutted at me for being a mother to a contented, happy, beautiful baby.
After that I took Oliver into the nearest city to get some things and had a couple look at me as I walked past with the pram and comment on how much of a shame it is, that a pretty girl like me has ruined her life. Excuse me? First of my looks shouldn’t even come into the equation and secondly, you know nothing about my life, in order to comment on how this gorgeous little boy has ruined it. Which I would like to point out, he hasn’t. He has enriched it more than even I could have comprehended.
I am a grown women, who has lived by herself and fended for herself since the age of 17. I am educated to degree level. I have travelled. I am in a loving and good relationship with my son’s father. We live in a house we own. We live on money we earn and save and not money given to us by the general public. I am hardworking, I am a good person and most importantly, I am a good Mum. I have not ruined my life by having a child, I have become a better person because of it.
So moving on from my own situation, I will address the generalisations of other young Mums.
First of all, if somebody is on benefits, the chances are that they need them. I knew a girl who was with her boyfriend for two years when they planned their first child. He then abandoned her and their son. She was on benefits for a while to find her feet. She is now training to be a nurse and has created a charity for parents who have been abandoned by their spouses. So when you look a person up and down because of their financial situation, have a think about whether this person will one day save your life, teach your children or possibly be your defence during a court case.
Second of all, whether you are with someone 5 months or 10 years, having a baby is tough on any relationship. There are marriages that fall apart after having children and yet couples who have been together two minutes when they fall pregnant, make it through the hardships. One couple I know found out they were having a baby when they were 20 years old and had only been together for four months. They have now been together for 6 years, have excellent, high paying jobs – and get this – their daughter is one of the best behaved and most polite children I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Finally, being a young Mum doesn’t make someone a bad person or terrible mother. Are there not people in their 30’s or 40’s who abandon and beat their children? Oh right, that’s it… there is. Being a good person or good parent is not based on what age you are. So again, that stigma of age being related to what type of person or indeed parent somebody is, is absurd.
So when you next see a young Mum, think before you judge.